The Deixis Press Weekly - Issue #44
it's a big 'un
I've got a few new subscribers--thanks to everyone who is interested in the workings of this press, even if the workings are currently not . . . working.
Let's start with a huge positive: We just had a launch for Marc Joan's phenomenal HANGDOG SOULS and Jessica Gregson's heartwrenching AFTER SILENCE. Sophie and Jan at Vout-O-Reenee's hosted the launch, as ever.
In response to a request to try to share the launches more widely with the world, I've been taking videos of the readings. The first two readings from my very first launch are lost to the ages (unless anyone took videos at the time? Please let me know if so!), but I have put all the rest on YouTube. I should probably arrange for interviews with all of my authors to put there too, hmmm.
(One thing I probably won't do is commission an entire band to write an entire song for each book, but it's a great idea.)
The launch was so much fun, even though my card reader tried not to work half the time, thus jeopardizing my ability to sell books. If I gave you a copy and asked you to buy it from https://deixis.press/books, please do actually go through with buying the book. Please.
In other good news:
THE WORKSHOP OF FILTHY CREATION by Richard Gadz, which WON BEST HORROR in the New Generation Indie Book Awards 2022, was also shortlisted in the 2022 Rubery Award For Fiction. The Rubery folks gave it a nice little write-up on their 2022 winners page: https://www.ruberybookaward.com/2022-winners.html
When Maria, a young girl, arrives off the boat in London Millwill docks, she almost immediately attracts attention by her remarkably rapid response in saving a toddler who’s about to fall into the river. Professor Hobson, who is there to meet her, hurries her away quickly, aware that her wax-like features and strange demeanor will result in trouble. This is a superbly atmospheric novel, imagined around the next generation after Frankenstein, referencing the history of Mary Shelley’s novel, with Maria as the new creation cloned from a dead body. Gadz’s novel is always convincing and placed authentically in its historical context. The believable, well-drawn characters, even Maria, who forms her own moral pathways, draw us in and earn our interest and sympathy, although some of the more gruesome details are not for the faint-hearted. The plot is intricate, full of action and very exciting with plenty of wonderful set pieces – a sinister secret organisation that has permeated all levels of society, a chase in a horse and carriage through the streets of London and a climax in the British Museum, complete with a giant gorilla.
Congratulations again to Richard. I only have a handful of copies left of WORKSHOP, so if you want the hardback direct from me at a discount, please get in there fast at https://deixis.press/books. And it's almost spooky season again, so consider: hardbacks make great Halloween gifts. Much better for your teeth than candy.
SOME RISE BY SIN by Sion Scott-Wilson has a sequel coming out next year (which I think I've mentioned here before), currently titled "What We Leave Behind." It's back from the proofreader and ready to typeset; I'm considering hiring a typesetter but I'm such a control freak that I may just have a couple of intensive typeset-based weekends. It's fine. It's all fine.
THE TRANSFER PROBLEM by Adam Saint, as I mentioned in the last newsletter, is available in ALL of the places now. I think of TRANSFER PROBLEM in a similar way as I do to my small son, who was born blue and had to be resuscitated but nevertheless has proved to be very smart and funny. One major difference is that my son is not for sale, but THE TRANSFER PROBLEM is, and you should buy it. Again, I have only a handful of copies left!
The popularity of CHOCOLATE CAKE FOR IMAGINARY LIVES by Genevieve Jenner continues; notably, people have spotted it in bookstores here and there. I am always hugely gratified by photos of this press's books in the wild, so please do always tweet them at me or email them or whatever. I am so pleased for Genevieve, and I regret the short-sightedness of traditional publishers: if I can successfully sell this book despite having virtually zero budget and nothing but energy and enthusiasm, then what could the giants of the industry have achieved for both themselves and Genevieve if they had taken her on before I did?
Speaking of giants of the industry, I'm sure you've all been wondering what it's like working for The Man, having previously expressed reservations about The Man. Here are some things about A Large Publishing House (which I will term ALPH from here on out, though my workplace isn't a secret):
I have never worked harder in my life. Seriously, in my previous 20-odd years of work I have never been particularly out of breath; I've never felt that I had more work to do than I had time, and I include running my own publishing imprint by myself while trying to make money as a freelancer as part of my data set. I never felt challenged as a technical writer, or working as a Fast Streamer at the Civil Service. I always felt there was plenty of time to fuck around.
THERE IS NO FUCKING AROUND TIME AT ALPH. These young women (and they are all1 young women) are the most competent, driven, smart, on-the-ball, Getting-Things-Done subject matter experts I have ever seen. Software developers? Yeah, smart, but overall pretty lazy. Civil Servants? Yeah, lazy, and allergic to decision-making, which is worse. But at ALPH it's like each and every woman went on a task management/Inbox Zero course and got a distinction.
But the major question: for what? . . . Now, this is not specifically an ALPH problem, but these highly-competent women across the publishing industry are working their guts out for 40+ hours/week for very little reward. It’s a huge problem, actually. Ok, yes, I suppose there is a certain amount of social cachet that comes from Working In Publishing, and there are plenty of free books and shiny catered events. And that's good, because there's very little disposable income for these folks to pay for their own books, or their own food.
Given that as a complaint, it's probably odd for me to say the next part, which is that I'm not at all enamored with the commercial side of commercial publishing: that is, choosing to commission/prominently market books that make money (ugh, gross, right?) in preference to books that make "valuable" reading.
Yes, valuable is a subjective term (I personally think crime and thrillers are valuable reading, which is why being on the team I'm on is so much fun)--and, hey, what better way to define "valuable" reading than a book that sells many copies with ease? And from the profits of that sale, large publishers are able to pay the competent young women who are breaking their backs. I get it.
And yet, and yet, and yet. I think the world could be better off without huge market budgets splashed out to court, buy, and sell [insert boring ghost-written celebrity advice workbook] or [insert someone who is besties with someone with sway], where that money is used to promote some really excellent books by provably well-loved authors on the mid-list instead. Or where big publishers offer authors deals like I do: instead of giving you an advance, why don't I throw part/all of that money into getting eyeballs on your work? Of course authors need an income, but so many authors complain that large publishers do nothing at all to market their books. It just seems that there is a lot of money around that is perhaps not getting used in an efficient way: to the benefit of great authors who really need it. Not that publishing is a charity.
Ah, well. This is all very much a me problem. Taste and business can live together in harmony. Deixis Press is perhaps too heavily weighted to taste. Nobody's perfect.
So the main takeaway is that I am at ALPH to work but also to learn, and that I am. I am learning a lot about how huge publishers manage huge processes, with more teams and cash than I'll ever be able to imagine for my own press (unless James Kinsley's upcoming short story collection makes us all rich, which of course is a strong possibility). But some of the lessons are transferrable to a small press too. My big question for myself is how best to define and support my own ambitions for my own work in relation to this year-long opportunity.
I hope this has been an interesting, if long, update. And just a reminder that you can buy all of this press's books at https://deixis.press/books if you like supporting independent presses and their authors.
If your wallet still feels just too darn heavy, I'd also like to point you to Undertow Publications. They very kindly mentioned HANGDOG SOULS in a recent newsletter, and I wanted to return the favor. But I'm not mentioning them in a mere tit-for-tat kudos effort, no no no. I've been a follower and consumer of Undertow output in a personal capacity for a while now, and they make a fantastic product. If you like horror and weird shit, you don't have to look too much further. Go, purchase, enjoy.
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Ok, some are slightly less-young women.